Office of the Chancellor

COVID-19: Academic and Operational Activity for Spring

March 10, 2020

Dear UCI community,

With finals week just around the corner and the uncertainty of the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hovering, I write to share definitive actions that the campus is taking effective immediately, and until further notice.

These decisions are made in support of the concept of “social distancing,” which is a public health concept to reduce the probability of contact between individuals who are or may be carrying a highly contagious disease. Social distancing – which can be effective with as little as a six-feet gap between individuals – helps to prevent infections that are transmitted by droplet (such as coughing, sneezing or touching a contaminated surface). Science shows that reducing the concentration of people in an area can lower the infection risk for everyone involved. The following actions are designed to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings.

Academic Instruction

  • As I mentioned in my March 8 message, while instruction for this week continues to take place in person, instructors are directed to exercise flexibility and to adjust their course practices and policies to accommodate students who cannot attend in-person classes over the next few days.
  • Final exams next week will be administered remotely. Departments and instructors should work together to determine the most appropriate solutions for finishing courses and assigning grades, putting student health and success first in their decision making. 
  • We are transitioning to a remote learning mode for Spring quarter. In limited cases, such as courses involving a lab, studio instruction, or clinical experiences, instructors will need to make accommodations to meet the course requirements whether in person or via an alternative delivery mode. Deans and department chairs will communicate these exceptions by the end of the week after consulting with the provost office. Otherwise, students will be able to receive instruction through distance learning options. 
  • Graduate students will transition to remote work whenever possible and may also continue work in research labs after consulting with their faculty and departments. Instructional tools and classrooms remain available for hosting online meetings, seminars, and course development. Access to research spaces and other resources necessary for graduate work will continue.
  • Students living on campus are strongly encouraged to return to their off-campus residences and, if possible, and to stay at home during the Spring quarter. As described above, Winter quarter final exams and Spring quarter instruction will be available to students living remotely. Students who remain in on-campus housing for the Spring will also receive instruction remotely and should be prepared for reduced on-campus activities and interactions. Dining services will remain open, with modified service options. The Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs will offer guidance on student services and housing in a separate message tomorrow and will create a process for identifying students who wish to move off campus for the remainder of the academic year.
  • UCI Health remains fully operational. Employees should follow guidance sent from medical center leadership. Students, residents, fellows and faculty members in the schools of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences will be receiving discipline-specific guidance.

Campus Events & Visits

  • All events and gatherings with more than 100 participants are to be canceled. Where possible, you are encouraged to deliver the event in an alternative format. For campus events that continue as scheduled, it is advised that organizers exercise key prevention strategies in event operation plans. Gatherings of less than 100 may also be inconsistent with the practice of social distancing if not properly organized.
  • Departments should not require visiting scholars and recruited faculty or graduate students to attend in-person meetings on campus. Necessary interviews and presentations should be done remotely.
  • All UCI Athletics events and competitions will continue as closed events. As such there will be no spectators or fans at these events.

Business Continuity

  • Importantly, the campus is not closing. Campus offices will remain open and most operations will continue. Employees who need to work remotely should contact supervisors for approval. Guidance for supervisors is forthcoming from Human Resources.
  • UCI is restricting all non-essential University-sponsored travel – international or domestic, particularly by air or train. Any UCI sponsored travel will require a vice chancellor, dean or chief officer approval. You are encouraged to find alternate means of conducting business as we work to help limit the potential spread of infection to other areas.
  • Office of Research has developed guidelines for assumptions in continuity planning that include reduction in available personnel, handling of experiments and data, and research management support. Guidance and information is forthcoming.

Understandably, there will be many questions in the days ahead. We are all committed to getting you timely information quickly, and with as much clarity as possible. However, I recognize that no number of messages or FAQs can answer every question, especially those with uniquely individual circumstances. We have established the UCI Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Center. Students, staff, faculty, parents, and community partners may call 949-824-9918 or email covid19@uci.edu to connect directly for more information.

While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the UCI community at this time, those with symptoms, especially if they have visited high-risk areas, are encouraged to call their medical providers or the Student Health Center. I encourage you to revisit our previous communications and tips for staying well on the COVID-19 updates webpage.

Thank you for your commitment to a healthy UCI community. Please remember to stay well and look out for each other.